14 November 2023

Remembrance and Lamenting – online gathering for reverence November 2023

An eclectic selection of music was worked into the mix of this online gathering for reverence : a chant from the Taizé community, tracks from Johnny Cash and Billy Joel, a poem song from the musical Godspell and a hymn from one of the UK Unitarian hymnbooks, which together might appear to lend this service a cheerful sort of feel.  But actually this was a service about remembrance and lamenting, making reference to loss, anger and injustice along the way.

link to the Taizé chant, sung by the UUSM

The thrust of the gathering was about the repertoire of religious motifs we have, around which to organize our thoughts and emotions, our pain and our healing, when confronted with the griefs that have been around forever, and with the new catastrophes we are now newly beginning to suffer, as a result of our over-population and over-exploitation of the planet, and its peoples, over the last centuries.

Different religious motifs may be relevant to us at different phases of our lives, and in changing circumstances we may find those motifs changing.  

Our president for the day described how for many years Christianity had had little to say to her; but that was when she had perceived the world to be in stasis, with perhaps a general, gentle drift towards reduction in injustice and improved living conditions for all.  Having experienced a sudden change of perspective — which she described with reference to Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in the biblical creation story — she reported how her previously comfortable and even complacent life had been exchanged for interior discomfort with the occasional sleepless night.  And she sees no prospect of any return to the previous complacency : like Adam and Eve, she feels she has left paradise for ever.  And that has changed her interior landscape with regard to Christianity.

The themes of remembering the war dead associated with the Meeting House in Ringwood, which until 1976 housed a Unitarian congregation; prophetic rage at injustice and wrongdoing; and personal complicity in both evil in general and environmental destruction in particular, were all wrapped in to what was a highly personal view on how to cope when lamenting seems to be the only rational response.

"O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and You will not listen?......Why do You make me see wrongdoing and make me look at trouble?  Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise......In Your wrath may You also remember mercy." (from the Bible prophet, Habakkuk)

Specific motifs that seemed to help our speaker were that of Shiva the Destroyer of Worlds (Shiva Nataraja) from Hinduism, and the crucified Jesus from Christianity.  Reminding us that one does not have to have a top-down theory, or theology, in order to enter contemplation via a religious motif, or to experience the love of God first-hand, she said:

“Shiva the Destroyer of Worlds is a very handy motif when reconciling my panentheism with the scientific, astronomical perspective, though it can also help when my interior world is demolished.  

This Destroyer motif points at a dancing, humorous transformation — a transmogrification — rather than an annihilation....But one limitation is that this motif doesn’t show me in the picture.  It heals through its logic, but not through the deep emotion of belonging.  

It offers a logic but no hope.”

Our president for the day then apologized that she needed the words of someone else to present her own position regarding the crucified Jesus.  She then quoted at length from Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk, in his book Things Hidden — Scripture as Spirituality. 

To help with this report, our speaker reviewed the quoted passage from Rohr, and has highlighted three points crucial to her, when she contemplates the crucified Jesus, and the healing this motif offers in those wee small hours of sleeplessness :

"Firstly, in the Cross, we can explicitly feel ourselves being pulled in two directions; towards God’s goodness, and towards our own complicity in evil. This could tear us apart, which is a common suffering in daily living.

Next, contemplating the Cross, we are immediately in a state of ‘not alone’-ness.  We do not get onto our cross by ourselves, and on our own we cannot pull ourselves in two directions.

Finally, hanging without resolution, in the paradox of goodness and evil, on our own cross — holding the contradictions, sharing and participating in the redemption of the world, forgiving reality for being what it is — is a way of gift : the gift that, at least in us, everything belongs."


27 October 2023

Harvest and Honouring the Earth – Unitarians in Ringwood gather again in October 2023

We were pleased to welcome Christina Smith to lead and preside over our Zoom gathering in October, with the theme “Harvest and Honouring the Earth.”

Here is the order of service:

Prelude music – 



Words of Welcome


Welcome to this table

Whatever path has brought you here

Whatever load you carry

Let us rest a while together.

May our hearts be open to accept what comes to us as a stranger,

May our minds be open to wonder at what we do not understand,

And may our spirits be nourished by our time here together,

Before we again take up our loads and set off upon our many paths,


Chalice Lighting

Moment to Pause – A pause to reflect on what matters to us and how we have lived up to that, ending with:

‘This is what the Sacred asks of you; that you act justly, that you love tenderly, and that you walk humbly in its presence’ (from the book of Micah, chapter 6 v8)


Candles of Joys and Concerns

HYMN  (purple hymn book) 147 Spirit of earth, root stone and tree 

A Prayer by Roger Courtney

1st Reading – a re-telling of a Sufi Story

HYMN  (purple hymn book) 189 We Celebrate the web of life

Words for reflectionThe Earth Speaks written by Richard Gilbert

Period of silence 

2nd ReadingFor Five Thousand Years, Or More by Matthew Johnson 

Address – by Christina Smith

A PrayerMother Earth by Lucy Bunch

HYMN (purple hymn book) 188 We bring to the altar [a fantastically rousing hymn for a sing-song!]

Closing WordsHarvest Thanksgiving by Gabor Kereki 

Postlude music – 


I think we all appreciated how carefully crafted the whole piece was, with cross-references and careful re-emphasis of the key messages. These are some of the messages I think I heard: 

  • "The earth simply turns; it is we who live." 
  • "The harvest is a recognition of the eternal abundance." 
  • "We show our gratefulness by how we share" (echoed in the postlude music).
  • "We commit to seeing and supporting beauty and creativity for all." 

The sequencing of the pause to do the inward work near the beginning of the service, followed by the candles of joys and concern, worked really well.  It allowed us all to get our own baggage – if not dealt with – at least let go of, before addressing the main theme, which was the possibility of unending abundance and how we feel about that. That is to say, this sequence allowed the exchange of "problems brought" for "positivity received" – which is a notable feature of the classical Eucharist of certain Christian traditions.

06 August 2023

No Didymus gathering for reverence in August or September 2023

We are still not available in sufficient numbers to consider holding a gathering on 13 August or 10 September.

However, we look forward to hosting the Southern Unitarian Association for a district gathering on Saturday 2 September.  This will be held in Ringwood Meeting House and everyone is welcome. More details nearer the time.

Meanwhile, below is an interesting trailer from the support team in London (known as Essex Hall).



For groups and individuals exploring deep questions

by Rev. David Usher

What gives meaning to your life? Is there a God? Is it possible to be spiritual without any concept of God? Are there any moral absolutes? Can you be spiritual all by yourself? … and other big questions! An opportunity for you to explore the big questions and what you believe and why. It is also about what you do with your answers and how your life can be spiritually enriched. Life Spirit is for use in groups as well as by Individuals. Lindsey Press (2015) ISBN 978-0-85319-085-1, 129pp, Softback, RRP £8.

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